How to Stay Safe When Cleaning Up After Rodents

The bursts of sunny weather and the abundance of time spent at home means that more of us are spending time in the yard and garden. We encourage people to get out in the yard if they can and enjoy some fresh air and the beauty of the spring blossoms. But it’s not all roses: if you’re digging around in the tool shed or rooting around in the garage, take some precautions in case rodents have been nesting there.

Some mice (deer mice, specifically) can carry hantavirus in their urine and droppings. This virus is rare, but can be potentially deadly in humans. If you find signs of infestation—like rodent poop, nests, or even dead rodents–take caution when cleaning it up.

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Deer mice can carry hantavirus. The are identifiable by their white bellies.

Here are a few simple tips for getting rid of rodents and rodent droppings and protecting yourself and others:

  1. Air it out. Before cleaning a space, ventilate it by opening multiple doors and/or windows for at least 30 minutes, allowing fresh air to circulate. Leave the area while it is airing out.
  2. Get your gloves on. Wear rubber or plastic gloves at all times. Dust masks can help protect against dust, molds, and insulation fibers, but they don’t protect against hantavirus. When you’re finished cleaning, wash the gloves with disinfectant or soap and water, and then wash your hands after disposing of the gloves!
  3. Spray, then mop – never sweep or vacuum. Sweeping and vacuuming stirs up dust, which contains allergens and could be contaminated, such as with hantavirus. Instead, spray the soiled area with a bleach solution and let it soak for 10 minutes. Then, using paper towel or rags, wipe up the droppings or nest material, seal the cleaning materials in a bag, and throw them in a covered trash can.
  4. Shampoo or steam clean upholstery and wash bedding. If you notice evidence of rodent urine or droppings on upholstery, bedding, or clothing, shampoo or steam clean it or wash it with detergent in hot water.
  5. Dead mouse? Soak dead rodents and nests, then double bag it. While wearing gloves, spray the dead rodent(s) with your bleach solution and let it soak for 10 minutes. Seal the dead rodent or nest in a bag, then seal that bag in a second bag. Throw the bag in a covered trash can.

Rodents don’t just hide out in basements and garages. They can infest crawl spaces, sheds, attics, BBQ grills, cabins, and even cars. Snap traps should be used to trap live rodents. Glue traps and live traps should not be used because they can scare the caught live rodents and cause them to urinate. This may increase your chance of getting sick.

Rodent control when reopening buildings during COVID-19

Some buildings or spaces that have been unoccupied for a period of time may also be at risk of rodent infestations. If you are entering a building that has been empty during Stay at Home orders, take extra precautions, even if you continued your pest control services in the past months. Please refer to our information on Rodent Prevention and Control When Reopening Buildings.

For more information about cleaning rodent infestations visit our website.